The only survivor of a plane crash that killed 152 has recalled the terrifying moment the jet plunged from the sky – paralyzing her body with an “electric shock”.
Bahia Bakari was 12 when the plane she was on with her mum slammed into the sea in poor weather off the east coast of Africa.
Bahia spoke at a Paris court where the cause of the crash is being investigated and revealed how she was thrown “upwards” and overcome by an electric shock that paralysed her body.
Bahia said: “I felt turbulence but I thought that was normal,”
“Suddenly I felt an electric shock that paralysed my whole body and went upwards. I had no chance to react.”
Yemen Airways Flight 626 from Yemen‘s capital Sanaa to Moroni, the capital of the Comoros islands, plunged into the sea with its engines at full throttle in June 2009.
When Bahia regained consciousness, she found herself clinging to a piece of aircraft wreckage, with no one around her.
“I heard cries for help in the water but I was completely alone,” she said.
The young girl floated for ten hours in the Indian Ocean before she was rescued.
During this time, Bahia said she had not lost hope that her mum was alive.
But when she reached hospital, Bahia was given the tragic news that her mum had died alongside 151 other passengers and crew, including 66 French citizens.
Giving her testimony in a Paris court this week, Bahia, now 25, described the pain of living with her three siblings without her mum.
She said: “I knew my siblings needed our mother but I couldn’t replace her.”
Relatives who were present at the trial had to leave the packed courtroom overcome with emotion.
The French court is currently examining the airline, now called Yemenia, which could face a maximum fine of 225,000 euros (£190,630) for manslaughter and unintentional injuries in a trial expected to last four weeks.
The Airbus went down in poor weather conditions shortly before landing in Moroni.
The French civil aviation safety authority BEA initially determined that the pilot’s mistakes had caused the crash.
The court is also looking to determine whether the pilot had received sufficient training, as questions also remain as to whether the runway was properly lit.
Addressing the court, Bahia criticised Yemenia for not sending any representatives to the hearing.
“I would have wanted them to listen to us, to listen to me, to have felt myself respected,” she said.
Earlier this week, we told how a last-minute decision saved a man’s life in a plane crash that killed 98 others.